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What Constitutes a 'Brand'?

Increasingly, conversations and negotiations in the home textiles world are revolving around that word. And it's a word that has many definitions in this business, depending on who you are and what you are trying to say internally to colleagues, and externally to suppliers and customers.

The home textiles world is working its way through the long-running saga of who will prevail in the Fieldcrest, Cannon, Royal Velvet and Charisma brand derbies. And while some of the game plan already is in play, it ain't over 'til it's over.

But beyond those brands, and some had significantly broader consumer impact than others in the family, there are a host of proprietary brands cropping up at retail. Some are in-house created, others are names — hoping to become brands — from suppliers or licensors aiming to work with a single retailer.

There are major questions that come up. Are these just names of someone or something that hopes to become famous with consumers? How do they plan to establish credibility?

And most important, who is going to make the significant financial investment in building the brand?

In the ever more price-conscious home textiles industry, where every penny counts toward margin objectives, both on the supplier and retailer side, there seems to be little room for the marketing investment that builds a brand.

And if you think about it, over the years this industry has made little investment in brand building, which could be why we are in this price-fixated situation. Who can blame retailers for going direct to off-shore sources for what is increasingly becoming commodity product? Any good design or forward-thinking concept immediately gets knocked off because there is no brand impact investment.

Even the retailers that are attempting to build their own home textiles or overall home brands are faced with the challenge of investing in the marketing of that fledgling brand. The question is, will they?

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